Friday, June 30, 2017

We had some severe rain last night. It is only now getting light enough to see and most of the plants look like they survived well. Some look a bit bedraggled but no serious damage visible.

For a bit of a laugh check out this piece. And not a one of the "terrorists" mentioned was Muslim.

I tied up a couple of drooping cucumber vines. They should find the trellis more easily now. I cut peppermint, spearmint, and chives which are drying now except for the clump of chives I reserved for mom to put into the pasta and ham salad for today's (and probably tomorrow's) dinner. I also trimmed excess leaves off of the tomatoes and the Patio Baby eggplants. Now I can better see the developing tomato and eggplant fruits. We are going to have to fine some new ways to cook up the eggplant if they yield fruit as well as they are flowering.

Interesting notion but I fear #45 might break our bank. We are on a slender fixed income barely above the poverty line.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

I am waiting to find out how good a morning it is. It is still dark but I think I saw clouds. I couldn't tell if it had rained overnight but we did have strong winds starting last evening. I got sage, catnip, lime basil and lemon balm dried and put up. I thought the chives are about due. Maybe today.

Well, there is more light outside and there are more clouds than blue sky. No rain yet and no sign of rain so watering plants is definitely on the agenda. We'll see about harvesting any herbs.

I saw this and my jaw dropped (then the expletives flew). After my astonishment faded, my first thought was: why would colleges want students who are, as they are called in the article, "book virgins." I remember semesters when I carried 15-18 credits and weeks when I read 15 or more, often hefty, books. Even now, though I get a lot of information on the internet, I read between 3 and 6 or so books a week. Do those "book virgins" write research papers and essays? If they do, on what do they base their writing?

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Good morning on this sunny and, again, cool day. It should be a little warmer but still a bit below normal.

Of course, political news casts a cold shadow. This came to my attention. When our elected officials feel they need armed guards to protect them from us we no longer have anything that resembles a democracy. I am sorry but the idiot who attacked the baseball practice isn't sufficient reason to give $10 million to individual members of the national legislature for the rest of this fiscal year (and additional monies for members to invest in surveillance equipment and to bulk up the Capitol police). So far the most dangerous aspect of their job seems to be sharp questions from their constituents they don't want to answer. That doesn't require armed guards and surveillance equipment just an intelligent  and respectful answer.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Chilly this morning--only 52F. The high is supposed to reach into the mid 70s. Long sleeves and jeans today I think.

Wired has a long but very interesting article on cyberattacks over the last three years on Ukrainian power systems. Other institutions like banks and government agencies were also hit but the focus is on the electric grid. A couple of years ago Ted Koppel published a book titled Lights Out which highlighted the vulnerability of the American power grid. The Wired article reaffirms Koppel's points and we should all be worried--very worried. And Wannacry is back--big time.

We talk about these stories often here. This morning we started listing all of the things that we would lose if something similar hit here. If just the internet went down all our banking and bill paying as well a good bit of our entertainment would be lost. That kind of a thought, and the fact that my books exceeded the storage capacity of my nook, led me to get an iPad so all of my books are on it not somewhere in the cloud where it might be marooned and inaccessible in such a case. If the electricity went out as well we would lose heating and cooling in the house, the ability to cook on the stove, all electric lights, and the fridge and freezer. We might also lose water and sewage unless the city has backup generators. We have workarounds for water, cooking and lights--for a while. Answering "nature's call"--I guess we would have to set up a bucket. A couple or so weeks ago Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism mentioned her internet went out repeatedly one afternoon and evening making her wonder if we weren't sliding to third world status faster than we realized--especially since the thunderstorms rolling through weren't that severe. Ours went out, briefly, about a week ago and we had no severe weather to blame it on.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Another week--the last of June. This year is half over. OMG!!! how times has flown.

We had a very nice weekend. I cut spearmint, chocolate mint and lavender which has been dried, ground and put up in jars. Trimmed some of the tomato fronds which were threatening to take over a couple of areas. Tied a couple of the cucumbers into place and redirected a couple of the bean vines that wanted to meander over the fence. Tomorrow, if it remains sunny and cool I think a second cutting of catnip and first cutting of sage is due. I snipped three small stalks of lemon verbena. The plant is still small but I hope to prevent it from becoming a straggly monster. I hope to treat it like my rosemary plants to keep it small and suitable for inside.

Really cruel but so true cartoon sums up the effects of the GOP HealthDeath Care bill. DeathCare for any one not in the upper 1%. I have said for some time that the debate isn't really about health care or access to health care. It is about access to health insurance: how much it should cost the purchaser, how much it should of the health costs it should cover and for which conditions. Lee Camp at Naked Capitalism maintains that there really is no debate. To call it a debate implies that there exists two legitimate arguments. There is only one side with two factions quibbling over how much the insurance companies should be allowed to charge us for the privilege of shafting us when we try to use the insurance.

When I saw this I thought it had to be a satiric piece. Evidently it isn't because other U.K. papers are reporting the same info: Major supermarkets are looking at implementing "surge" pricing. Heat wave getting you down? Be prepared to pay more for ice cream or cold drinks. High demand for certain items can result in much higher prices than the customer would expect. They predict the tradition of fixed prices (and probably shelf tags displaying those prices) will be gone within the next five years.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

It looks like it will be clear today so I might be able to get some herbs cut. The temperatures should be cooler over the weekend. I will like that and I think the plants do too. They are looking good and growing nicely.

David Kaiser has an excellent article that picks out something in the political zeitgeist we have been noticing here. Looking at the potential for Dems in the 2018 and 2020 elections we see little of promise, nationally or at the state level. Where are the Dems who have political heft on the national level? I don't see them. Nor do I see the Dems moving away from the "everything is fine; we need to stay the course with a few minor tweaks" message that failed with nearly half of the electorate distributed in a way that gave #45 his Electoral College victory.

I love this. How about sending stenographers along with the sketch artists?

No wonder #45 has such an affinity for the Saudis. Birds of a feather and all that.

Friday, June 23, 2017

We didn't get the thunderstorms and the early rain fizzled out pretty quickly. I didn't harvest anything. By the time the rain ended the heat was building and my ambition went to sleep. It is overcast now and we did get rain overnight. I hope it burns off but more rain is forecast for today. We'll see.

The southwest is baking in triple digit heat but at least someone has a sense of humor.

Huffington Post has a nice concise guide to the House and Senate (faux)health care bills and how they differ from each other and from the ACA. Number 45 called the House bill "mean" while Senator Schumer described the Senate bill as "meaner." I think both understated the situation.

I had thought, for a very brief moment, that the clouds might burn off. Well, the deluge that started a few minutes ended that dream. The major consolation: I won't have to water anything.

Continuing on the health care reform scam, Kunstler has a good piece this morning which takes the discussion from the realm of who gets screwed to give the wealthy even more than they have now to some underlying truths. First, the debate has been couched, both for the ACA originally and for the so-called reforms, in terms of "access to health care." That is untrue. The ACA and the bills to replace it only deal with who gets access to health insurance with what restrictions at what cost. If you can't afford the insurance you need, the Repthuglicans say "tough shit, if you were a good person you wouldn't be sick or you would be rich enough to afford the insurance. Otherwise, Scum, shut up and die." If you have insurance but can't afford the care because of the deductibles--see above. He is also right to describe the medical industry as a racket which is marching lockstep with the education racket and the other rackets that dominate our economy. They are all swirling down the drain together.

It's all smoke and mirrors. Not only should we not pay attention to what #45's says because his verbal effusions (or tweets) are lies, exaggerations or contradicted with the next outpouring of verbiage but we have to reserve judgement on his actions as well because the immediate results (if any) may be ephemeral in the extreme.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

It looks like another nice day to start out though thundershowers may pop up later and overnight tonight. I want to finish cutting the second container of spearmint and a couple of more herbs for drying.

It is now light enough to see outside and I may put any gardening off till tomorrow. The rain might be moving in sooner than the predictions said.

A light rain came while I fixed breakfast. No thunderstorms--yet. I am grateful for the rain and I can leave the harvesting of the herbs for a day or two without losing anything. This is an easy time because the veggies are just in bloom and the few small tomatoes are not anywhere near ready to pick.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Ah, the Archdruid is back at his new blog Ecosophia. My withdrawal symptoms have eased. Head over there and enjoy an intelligent and witty piece of writing.
Welcome to Summer. The garden is in very good shape. In fact I am more satisfied with this year's garden than any in the past. I did say "welcome to summer" and the hottest part of the season is still ahead but my patio gets its maximum direct sunlight now and from now the days will get shorter until, in three months at the autumnal equinox, it will again be in shade most of the day. Right now the temperature is quite cool--not yet 60F--though it should warm up to about 80. I didn't get the spearmint and peppermint cut yesterday so that is on the list for today. I have been looking at the sage and deciding when would be a good time to collect some of it. Maybe tomorrow along with another cutting of the English lavender.

I did get three trays each of the spearmint and peppermint into the dehydrator. I only clipped one of the buckets of spearmint so I put the other one on my to do list for tomorrow along with the chocolate mint. Depending how much I get I may take some of the lavender also. The dehydrator has, theoretically, seven levels but I like to run only the top six. The seventh is the base and it is more difficult to work with so I simply ignore it. Most of what I wanted to do is done which is good. I often say, semi-jokingly, that if we don't get things done early here we don't get them done at all.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Good morning, all. Another sunny day to start just like yesterday. And like yesterday we may get thunderstorms in the afternoon. Ours made a lot of noise but no rain that I saw. I will water the gardens later and, I hope, harvest peppermint and spearmint (for the second time). But we have grocery shopping to do. so I may delay the herbs till tomorrow. I found and drowned my first Japanese beetle of the season. It was munching on the strawberries. I haven't seen any beetles or beetle damage on the eggplants or the beans or cucumbers--yet.

There are cute stories of revenge and this is one. Lessons here: don't cut down a tree a man has nurtured for thirty years, don't make him pay for the damage your actions caused and don't screw with an arborist.

So Amazon has decided to buy Whole Foods. Bloomberg had this edge of hysteria article today claiming that Amazon will "kill your local grocer." It made little impression on me. A few years ago we realized that we had four choices for general groceries, not including meat which we buy from a small meat market that sources locally. Those four were Strack-Vantills/Town & Country, Walmart, Target, and Aldi. We never liked Aldi and became dissatisfied with Walmart a long time ago. Target is a pale imitation of a grocery store. So Strack-Vantills and Town & Country have been our mainstays. Now however the the company that owns the Strack-Vantills chain (which includes Town & Country which explains why I treat our three stores as a unit) is in bankruptcy and Jewel has a bid in for nineteen of the stores. Right now our three stores are open but how many Jewel will get, if any, is in limbo. Amazon taking over Whole Foods will do little to either hurt or help our local grocery situation since there are fewer than half a dozen Whole Foods stores in the whole state of Indiana and none of them within easy distance of us.

Monday, June 19, 2017

It is a lovely day so far though the weather reports predict afternoon thundershowers. I harvested lemon balm and lime basil which is now drying. The spearmint has recovered from the first cutting well and I plant to cut more along with peppermint. Then it will be time for to cut the lavender again. I am watching the lemon verbena and debating when I should start trimming it to keep it a compact little tree.

Our problem with the printer seems to have corrected itself this morning. We still have no idea of what was wrong but are glad we don't have to replace what has been an excellent little device for us. Once upon a time I could pretty well understand what went on with computers and their peripherals. Not for a long time now. They have progressed so far beyond me.

I found this and my only comment: I would love to roast the trucking companies and all of the companies (like WalMart, Target, Home Depot) who hide behind the excuse that they have no responsibility for the assholes they hire.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Saturday--June 17

Added lotus vines and a heliotrope to the gardens. I do have a couple of additional spaces I could fill but I won't be looking very hard for anything to fill them. The gardens are looking good as they are and I think it is time to let what I have develop. I didn't collect any herbs for drying because of the threat of thundershowers and the errands we needed to do. Tomorrow is a good day to start getting caught up on that. I hope.

Sunday--June 18

We had rain here this very early morning that just stopped a few minutes ago. The weather report says it should clear out and we should see the sun. If that happens I will cut some of the herbs for drying. I put the heliotrope in place of the anemone which suffered from the early heat just after I put it in and then from the cold snap that followed. It never really recovered. I lost several plants to that nasty weather pattern.

I have spent most of the last couple of hours trying to figure out what has gone wrong with our printer. I wanted to print out descriptions of the plants I have in the gardens and easily printed the first. But then it stalled. After trying everything we could think of we finally got it working again by reintroducing it to our wireless router but it stalled again after printing the next two sets. We still haven't figured out what has been happening. The computer says either it can't find the printer or the printer isn't connected. But when we check the printer it says it is. I don't know what is going on but it is frustrating as hell.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Thursday--June 15

We had rain through the night but it has cleared off for what may be a sunny morning. I won't have to water another day and everything looks good from the door. Closer inspection will come later.

The Flint, Michigan, story keeps getting worse. We'll never know how much damage has been done to the people of Flint because any retesting can't verify the lead blood levels of two or three years ago. Five officials have been indicted for involuntary manslaughter because of the deaths due to Legionaries Disease directly attributable to the water contamination.

I skimmed this Tom Englehardt piece yesterday at The people at Foreign Policy in Focus reprinted it today and I decided to read it more closely. If anyone really thinks #45 is going to bring back whatever "golden age" you might long for given his proposed budget (which changes from moment to moment, whim to whim) and his appointments, I have a bridge I would like to sell you. I don't own it but what does that matter in this "Twilight Zone" world.

Another interesting Foreign Policy In Focus article: "The Residue of Empire."

Friday--June 16

The weather predictions for today say scattered thunderstorms. I hope for a clear patch so I can harvest catnip and lemon balm for drying.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Monday--June 12

The temperature hit 92F here yesterday and should be hotter still today. These are the kind of days when everything that is going to get done is done early while it is still cool. I will have to water everything well this morning but I don't have anything else to do outside. I will finish working with the herbs I cut yesterday; nothing else is ready to harvest.

Tuesday--June 13

94F yesterday last I saw. I may have gotten a degree or two warmer after I checked.

Wednesday--June 14

We had hail yesterday evening. Totally unexpected. I will check closely to see if it did any damage to the gardens but, from what I saw through the patio door, I don't expect to see any. The hail was small and light. We finally put the air conditioning on and we do feel much better for it. The heat just sucked all the energy out of us. We turned on the morning news, which we rarely do, to see what they had on the hail but found nothing. Evidently it wasn't either wide spread enough or severe enough to mention.

I did just check out the gardens after refilling our coffee cups. I saw a lot of torn leaves and spent flowers on the ground but no seriously damaged plants. My catnip looks a bit frazzled but I expect it will recover quickly. No other damage.

Found this item almost first off. I developed my skepticism about American Exceptionalism over a lifetime and didn't have a base of childhood skepticism. My family, my father especially, was the quintessential "love it or leave it" type. He wasn't too happy with me when I answered his favorite "My country right or wrong" with another quote "My country: when she is right to be kept right and when she is wrong to be put right." The skepticism has fermented richly in my 68 years.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Friday--June 9

Another week gone leaving us wondering where the time has gone and what we have accomplished in that time that seems so very short. The hot stretch of days is still predicted with some disagreement between sources as to how long and how hot.

Saturday--June 10

I found this and absolutely love it. It is precisely the reception the Tweeter-in-Chief deserves. One might argue that such actions are disrespectful of the office of the President. There is always a fine line between respecting the office and respecting the piece of crap pretending to fill it. And how do you show your disdain for the human detritus occupying the position without undermining the dignity and respect the office deserves?

Sunday--June 11

We got very close to 90F yesterday. We should exceed it today. So far we haven't had to turn on the air conditioning. I have a couple of new items to put into the gardens--a couple of creeping Jenny and a couple of purslane. Then the large containers will be full. I still have four spots for small plants in my second tiered pot.

I harvested a tray of stevia, 2 each of thyme and lavender. Those are drying now. I will finish them off tomorrow. Everything is well watered. We actually haven't had rain for about ten days and don't expect any until around Wednesday. The half-to-one inch total they are predicting won't do much for anything. It might be one day I won't have to water.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday--May 8

I didn't see much to comment on. I did get some new plants put in the gardens: two purple velvet petunias, one each of Greek oregano, orange mint, mosquito geranium. I cut a bit of chives for our omelets at supper. I also cleaned out the pots the orange trees were in. All my citrus curled up and died. And I removed my struggling eucalyptus from its pot and reset it with fresh soil. I hope that gives it the kick it needs to perk up. I hope to cut and dry some lavender, stevia and thyme tomorrow to dry. I will need to get out early since the temps are supposed to be in the high 80s. Then the heatwave is supposed to arrive with temps in the 90s through next Thursday.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday--June 7

We expect another cool but sunny day with a trip to the farm market to the north later. I do need to water today but the cool temps have reduced the need a bit. Just a bit of garden puttering. I have lavender just about ready to cut a bit and a couple of petunias to put into the gardens. I might find something new at the farm market.

Found this item first thing this morning. I sense some reservations in the authors comments which makes me think he is lukewarm on his government's new stance. But I can see Trudeau's (and his minister's) points. Mom remarked that, if any of the current tensions and low level conflicts spiral out of control, we don't really have any allies left. That is the problem with #45's zero sum view of life and governance. Building alliances requires finding a win-win balance and he thinks only in terms of "I win-you lose."

I don't need to comment on this. It seems thoroughly in character for our Grifter in Chief.

Another article I don't have to comment on. I wonder how long before top administration officials will have to visit foreign countries in disguise.

I already read one article on #45's difficulty retaining top legal talent to represent him, personally, in the various Russia inquiries (to date four congressional investigations and a special consul.) The earlier pieces noted those law firms' reluctance to represent a client who doesn't listen to advice. Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars also notes other reasons given by those firms including lack of time for a complex case and their concerns that the client (who has a habit of stiffing people he does business with) won't pay the bill. The Grifter in Chief has a history that is returning to bite him in his nether regions. Yeah, Karma is a bitch.

How to silently call "bullshit" on a Bullshit Artist giving the daily White House press briefing!! The expressions say everything that needs to be said.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday--June 6

We have a break from the past several hot days that had us thinking about turning on the air conditioning. We didn't do that but we did set up the window fan--just in time to not have to use it. By the weekend we should be back in the high 80s and low 90s. We also have a break from the persistent periods of rain. I think my plants will like the cooler but sunny conditions a bit more than the heat.

William Astore has a wonderful post at TomDispatch this morning. A good many of his points we have discussed here over morning coffee. It would be wonderful to think that we might be able to divert the USA from its path to becoming the USSR 2.0. But I think it would take the political equivalent to Paul's "road to Damascus" moment.

Oh, the games the politicians play. I shouldn't restrict that to politicians because, as Bardi, notes the coal and big oil companies were also eyeball deep in the shit.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday--June 5

Well, let's see what I might like to comment on today. I can report that the gardens are doing nicely. I added three "hens and chicks", a pot of arugula and some lemon mint. The hibiscus had a new blossom over the weekend. The clematis and beans have found their respective trellises and are rapidly heading upward. All of the cucumber seeds I put in the garden have sprouted and look poised for a growth spurt. All tomatoes are looking good. I put up a shade for the two that looked a bit sunburned and they have come back well. I pruned some of the leaves that were interfering with other parts of the plants and the patio eggplants. I plan to harvest some spearmint and a little of several other herbs for drying. I am still looking for small plants to tuck here and there where I still have room.

The spearmint is in the dehydrator--four trays of it. I hadn't expected that much so I won't have to fill a tray with sprigs of other herbs. They can grow a bit more. I also ground up egg shells to make about two cups of "slow-release calcium" as one gardening blogger calls it.

I hadn't intended to comment on this Kunstler piece but changed my mind. Key point #1: Putin asking "Have you all lost your mind?" I agree with Kunstler that we have and I would say that we have been slowly going insane for while. Is there such a thing as communal Alzheimer's? It feels like it. And the Russia "controversy" isn't the only part of our politics that convinces me of that. Somewhere I heard that Putin also remarked that the U.S. has frequently interfered with the elections of other countries--a remark backed up by this Washington Post article (and any good history of U.S. foreign affairs). As Kunstler points out we don't need Russia to ignite the "groaning garbage barge" that is our domestic environment We are doing a good job of that ourselves. Key point #2: I agree that the Paris accord was more of an "ass-covering" exercise than a real substantive effort to mitigate climate change. I have wondered whether we could do much since I first started following the controversy. At that time (20 years ago) we were told that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had to be kept below 350ppm. Well, I looked up the statistics. Guess what? We passed that mark in 1985. The real value of the Paris agreement was as a symbol which we shouldn't sneeze at. Symbols can be important and it provides another rallying point in the resistance to the catastrophe that is President #45. Key point #3: #45 is definitely not going to "Make America Great Again" in terms that would satisfy his supporters. We won't see the nirvana of the 1950's manufacturing age recreated. For all the reasons Kunstler has outlined in his several books.

If we aren't actually going insane then perhaps the real problem is a "sickness of the soul." This piece counts the ways such a diagnosis fits--and there are a lot of then.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Tuesday--May 30

Nothing going on today.

Wednesday--May 31

Grocery shopping and the Coffee Creek farm market today.

Thursday--June 1

Welcome to June and the first day of meteorological Summer.

The little farm market is nice. We found nice pots of catnip and lemon verbena which I will plant out later. The early veggies are coming in and we found a nice head of lettuce for a chef salad tomorrow. We were a bit early. Not everyone was set up and some venders may wait till later in the season.

Friday--June 2

This story from the U.K. blew me away. I didn't know agave could grow that tall.

But then I consider myself somewhere on the cusp of beginner/intermediate gardener status. A blogger I read frequently wrote that someone who isn't killing a plant every now and then isn't living up their gardening level. I guess I am doing well in that respect. None of the citrus I tried this year worked out so I am busily trying to figure out what went wrong so I can try again next year. I have a five or six year old (I forget exactly how long ago I got it) rosemary that is thriving (for now). It was the successor to about five other rosemary plants that didn't make it. I have a little lemon verbena. Four others I have tried over the years never made it past the season in which I acquired them. It is always a challenge to figure out why something works and why it doesn't.

An interesting bit of needlecraft history--was grandma just knitting or was she spying?